At least one driver died while hundreds more were involved in accidents after torrential rain pounded UAE roads and grey clouds and wind hung over the country — while school pupils were sent home early, roads were blocked off and homes and businesses flooded.
There was hardly a dry patch throughout the land with all weather stations in the country recording rain between 0.2 millimetres and 27.4mm. The worst hit areas were Ras Al Khaimah’s Jebel Jais mountain, which registered 27.4mm, Masafi hit 25mm, Al Shuwaib in Abu Dhabi recorded 21.8mm, while Dubai Airport registered 16mm, Sharjah Airport had 11mm and Abu Dhabi Airport had just 3.8mm.
Dubai Police Command Room director Brigadier Omar Al Shamsi said there were two serious accidents, resulting in the death and serious injury of two drivers, and 314 minor accidents in just nine hours between 5am and 2pm.
An Asian driver was killed in an accident which happened at 1pm along Shaikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road in an area where rain water had accumulated, he said. The Asian driver lost control of his car, which swerved to the right and hit a concrete barrier. When the man stopped to check the damage, another vehicle had a similar accident and hit the man, who died at the scene.
Earlier in the day, at 10am in Dubai’s Nad Al Hammar, a driver jumped a traffic signal and hit another car, leaving the driver in the first car seriously injured. The man was rushed to hospital.
Al Shamsi called on drivers not to speed during rainy conditions especially, and to leave enough space between vehicles, as well as to avoid driving in rain water where possible. He also recommended drivers turn on their headlights in low vision and — if conditions were bad — stay at home if possible.
The police command room received 2,198 calls on the emergency number from 5am until 2pm, with the majority of calls rain-related, Al Shamsi said.
Despite the wind and heavy rain, police did not close off traffic as traffic movement was normal, though there was some traffic congestion in certain areas especially during peak hours.
Meanwhile, schoolchildren were sent home early as a result of the poor conditions.
Ministry of Education Undersecretary Marwan Al Sawaleh said all schools located in the mountainous areas and valleys in the northern emirates were instructed to send students home due to the early showers.
“All schools have been asked to take due precautions to ensure students’ safety and protect them against rains.”
Many RAK houses are still suffering damage caused by heavy rains which fell about a month ago.
Tuesday’s torrential showers began from early morning, turning internal roads and open desert into pools of water.
Despite reporting no weather accidents, RAK Police Traffic and Patrols Department acting director-general Lt-Col Ahmed Al Shaam Al Naqbi said police blocked all the roads leading to the valleys worst hit by the showers.
Despite efforts of Sharjah and Ajman municipalities, both emirates faced rain-related problems, with pools of stagnant water throughout.
Traffic was congested with vehicles going slow due to water-logging early morning. Many parking lots in Sharjah were also submerged in water, while pools of muddy water blocked the entrances to many residential and commercial buildings in Ajman, forcing residents to stay indoors.
Sharjah Municipality Director-General Riayad Alaillan said since the start of the rain season the municipality had been pumping out water clogged on the roads in coordination with Sharjah police department, using hundreds of pumps. Workers would be on stand-by till the end of the rainy season, he said.
Sharjah Police Patrol Department head Ahmed bin Darwish warned motorists who drove in foggy weather without using headlights would be fined Dh200 and have four black points recorded against them.
Abu Dhabi also faced morning downpours, though from lunchtime onwards the rain had slowed down.
“Actually, in Al Falah, where I live, the rain started the night before and it was still raining in the morning, when I left for work,” said Nasser Al Hamly, a resident of Al Falah, a town neighbouring Abu Dhabi.
Eastern and western regions of Abu Dhabi also experienced heavy rain on Tuesday morning. In Ghantoot, it rained heavy for several minutes and flooded the roads and streets. The visibility was as well poor on the main Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway.
Parts of Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain also experienced heavy rains.
The National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) warned motorists of low visibility, down to 15 metres, caused by strong winds blowing dust.
The NCMS said on Tuesday, unstable weather would continue over the country, with increasing cloud scattered over areas, especially the coast and northern areas, with a chance of rainfall and a fall of temperatures.